Thursday, January 10, 2013

2012 Writing Stats and Reflections

What a difference a year makes.

At the onset of 2012 I had a total of four fiction publication credits in the 21st Century for which I had earned a total of less than $15. I had made 70 short fiction submissions in 2011, garnering 67 rejections and 3 acceptances. (That's actually a fairly-decent ratio, though one of those was a twitter-length fiction and the other two sales were a pair of flash stories to the same market.) Not even in my wildest dreams did I imagine that in 2012 I would make over a half-dozen pro-paying sales, become eligible to be a full Active member of SFWA, and have a story of mine selected for reprint in an anthology being edited by mystery and crime editing legend Otto Penzler.

Of course, 2012 wasn't all roses. I went through an absolutely brutal stretch from mid-January through mid-March where in 85 submissions of fiction to paying markets I received 84 rejections and 1 acceptance. If I was going to quit writing, this is when it could have happened. If I had, it would have been quite the pity. Starting with my first pro-rate sale ("An Unsuitable Job for a Human" to Nature) I went through a stretch where in my next 85 submissions of fiction to paying markets I made 12 sales including a total of three at pro rates. Now that meant I still got 73 rejections but, folks, those 73 rejections are a lot easier to take when the sales are rolling in as well. And a roughly 14% acceptance rate at paying fiction markets is not something to sneeze at, at all.

Overall, I made a total of 316 submissions in 2012. I received 317 responses, some of which were for submissions sent in 2011. (Conversely, some of my 2012 submissions did not receive responses during the calendar year.) For those submissions:
  • One submission received no reply.
  • Two submissions were withdrawn.
  • I received four rewrite requests; three of which I followed up on and all three resulted in sales.
  • I had 33 acceptances, one of which later fell through. (On the other hand, I had one solicited story sale, which doesn't show up in my "submission" metrics.)
  • And I had 277 rejections.
Of the 34 acceptances:
  • Four were to pro-rate SFWA-qualifying markets.
  • Three were to pro-rate markets not on the SFWA list.
  • 13 were to semi-pro markets (including the one which fell through).
  • 11 were to markets which pay, but either have a per-word rate below semi-pro rates or which pay a flat rate which generally falls below semi-pro.
  • One was a semi-pro poetry sale.
  • Two were for no payment -- one Twitter-length fiction and one foreign language reprint.
Viewing them another way, and leaving out the story sale which fell through and skipping reprints, etc. I sold 28 different stories in 2012:
  • 14 of those were flash length (1,000 words or fewer)
  • Nine were between 1,001 and 3,000 words.
  • Five were over 3,000 words.
  • 12 were fantasy stories.
  • 11 were science fiction stories.
  • Three were mystery stories.
  • Two were horror stories.
Compiling this information is as much for my own benefit as a point of comparison for future years, but I hope that it also could be of interest (and possibly even inspiration) to other writers who are working their way along the same path.

And I'd be remiss if I didn't end this post with a tip of the hat to Alex Shvartsman, friend and frequent critique partner, whose introduction to his own 2011 year-in-review post I shameless ripped off for my 2012 year-in-review post. His post is worth reading if you want to know more about the techniques which both he and I have tended to use to improve our writing, produce a significant wordcount, and attain acceptances.


  1. Just incredible, Michael. Congratulations and here's to another great year.

    1. Thank you, Deborah! The same to you for 2013!

  2. Congratulations. Very inspiring and instructive. May 2013 bring you more success.

    1. Thank you, Stan! I hope the year treats you well, too.

  3. Michael,

    You're a poster child for why a writer shouldn't quit just because it may take them time to hit their stride and begin generating steady acceptances. Perseverance and talent are needed in spades, whereas talent alone often isn't enough to break through.

    Given your skill and work ethic, there's no telling how far you'll go, in 2013 and beyond. Pretty soon I expect to brag about how I knew you before you were famous :)

    1. Alex,

      Thank you for your very kind words. And your encouragement during those early-2012 rough patches was very helpful in keeping me from losing faith. Hopefully we can brag about each other many times in the years to come! :)

  4. Wow, really interesting stats! Congrats on pushing through the tough times to some awesome success.

    1. Glad you found the stats interesting, Nicole, and thanks for the congratulations.